How to Deal with Narcissistic Personality Disorder
One piece of advice that may be useful in dealing with narcissists is to set boundaries. If a conversation becomes completely self-centered, decide how long you will listen to the individual talk. When the time has ended, try to redirect the conversation. If this tactic does not work, terminate the conversation by excusing yourself, if at all possible. When setting boundaries, it is important to remember to stick to them.
Don’t share too much information about your own accomplishments and talents with someone you suspect is a narcissist. He or she must always be the most important person; thus, they will find a way to make your accomplishments or talents appear less exciting or less significant than their own. If you do share details of your accomplishment or talents, be prepared to hear about how you could have done better. Let these words roll off of you. Remember, the other person’s opinion about your accomplishments or talents isn’t as important as how you feel about what you’ve done yourself.
Another piece of advice on how to deal with narcissistic personality disorder is to not allow yourself to get sucked into trying to please a narcissist. You will never be able to make them happy no matter how hard you try.
Acceptance and Emotional Support
If you work with a narcissist, keep records of all your exchanges such as e-mails, text messages, memos, meetings and phone calls. If your boss is a narcissist, it is a good idea to keep very detailed records of your work. For instance, write down what time you came in and left work, when you took your lunch break and for how long, what tasks you completed each day and the days you worked. It is also advisable to quietly network with other professionals so that you can more easily get a new job if you run into conflict with a narcissistic boss and he or she fires you from your position.
Another piece of advice on how to deal with narcissistic personality disorder is to accept the narcissist for whom he or she is. Realize that you cannot change the other person’s behavior. Furthermore, because narcissists do not realize their behavior is problematic, they are likely to never seek out psychotherapy or any other form of treatment. Although with the help and encouragement of friends and family some do seek treatment and benefit from it.
Narcissists do not recognize or have empathy for other’s needs or desires. Thus, if you want to get a need or want met by a narcissist, you are going to have to go about it in a different way. Rather than stating your need or want, reframe your request to show how the situation will benefit the person suffering from narcissism. For example, instead of asking your narcissistic husband to spend some time with you one night, tell him you would love to make him a fantastic dinner and would really appreciate his great company. You may not enjoy having to constantly stroke a narcissist‘s ego, but reframing your requests is the best way you can get your needs and wants met.
Whenever possible, do not get into an argument with a narcissist or criticize him or her. Criticism will likely result in a personal attack. If you find a conversation turning into an argument, politely change the subject. If this tactic does not work, find a polite way to excuse yourself from the conversation.
Finally, make sure you have plenty of your own emotional support when dealing with a narcissistic person because it can be very draining. Narcissists can make you feel bad about yourself and question your sanity. Thus, it is essential that you have someone you can talk to about your interactions and who will remind you of your value. Your support system might include family members, friends, and a therapist.
Psychology Today: How to Deal with a Narcissist:
Career Thought Leaders: Dealing with Narcissists in the Workplace:
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.